It takes a fight to win

BY: Beth Edelman| March 9, 2017
It takes a fight to win
QWhy are you such pacifists when you say "it takes a fight to win"?
AIf you guys are pacifists, why do you always say – “it takes a fight to win?” Good question, thanks.

Pacifists are opposed to war and violence, according to a standard dictionary. Organizations that are opposed to war as a means of settling disputes say so in their statement of principles or constitution. One that comes to mind is the religion The Society of Friends, also known as Quakers. The Communist Party is not a pacifist organization.  Members have a variety of views on pacifism, including some who embrace it. Still you are right – the Communist Party is opposed to war; our opposition to war grows out of our nearly 100 years of experience. Our observation on who takes the heat or the brunt of war -devastation -cost and who benefits, taking huge profits informs our best instincts. War rarely benefits anyone but the giant corporations. There is more to our opposition to war but we'll leave it for another time.

Back to your question: why does it take a fight to win.  We live in a  capitalist society.  Simply put the means of production is owned by  the capitalists - factories, mines, offices, laboratories, land, technology –  productive property in the main is privately owned.  People who work, the working class, must sell their ability to work. The price of buying labor power is wages or salaries and benefits.  Those who own have power to set wages; those who seek jobs have less.  There is an inherent contradiction between the owners and workers. Marxists refer to this as inescapable, the fabric of the system  - class struggle. Workers receive wages a fraction of the value they produce, the balance, surplus value is taken by the capitalist.  The struggle over wages, conditions of work, conditions of living, is  constant, it is a struggle over surplus value. At times this is muted, taking many forms and at times it breaks into the open.   This is a somewhat simplified explanation, still it is the essence, the  fight to which we refer.

The outcome of the 2016 election means we are faced with a most anti-worker, anti democratic, anti human government. The coalition of right wing Republicans in both Houses of Congress and Trump in the White House give great power to the right. Their plan is to dismantle the democratic institutions, replace worker and people protections with promises, and shred our Constitutional.

The demands, the fight for a $15 national minimum wage, the right to organize a union, guaranteeing the right to vote, immigration reform with a path to citizenship, democratization of the nation's police forces to end abuse and racism, funding public education, defending and extending Obamacare, saving our planet will not go away. These demands reflect need and have broad support. Trump-Republican domination may rearrange how demands are perused still these movements together with outrage at abrogation of democracy will fuel the street heat and political- electoral organizing.

We have not yet reached 100 days of this new situation. Already this administration is facing problems -number one  an increasingly organized opposition. Since November 9 street actions and demonstrations are growing. Opposition to the Muslim ban, the wall on the boarder with Mexico, the stepped up deportation of undocumented people,  the effort to repeal Obamacare is rattling some part of the structures. People are becoming emboldened. Electoral initiatives and political discussions are pointing a path toward more involvement to win a more democratic government nationally and in state capitols.

The fight we are talking about is what you see on the evening news.  It is seeking out our neighbors, co-workers, school mates – talking among ourselves, figuring out what we can do.  It is hooking up with the local chapters of unions, the PTA helping in the organizing. It is running for local committee person, in the election district or ward, it is talking to our councilwoman finding out how to help build Sanctuary City defense. It's visiting the local Mosque, Church and other houses of worship. It is calling almost daily telling our state reps., Congress people what we think. Even as our opposition grows we need to know evicting Trump & Co. will take a mass and complex movement and the time and skill to get it together.

We say it takes a fight to win, because it does.

A special note:  As we who defend democracy grow in numbers, become more active, develop our understanding, we need to guard our unity.  There are those who will try to sow division, anti-Semitism, anti-black, anti immigrant, anti-socialist or anti-communist ideas.  We can and should talk about it.  We cannot let it pass.  We can and will have differences but we cannot have division.

Comments (7)

Scott Hiley | March 22, 2017 at 12:43 PM

As you probably know, CPUSA does not endorse violent or terrorist action in the fight for socialism, for a couple of reasons. First, working class people are already victims of the intense violence of capitalism: insecurity, gentrification and displacement, poverty, mass incarceration. More violence is not in the interest of our class. The other reason is that we live in an age of militarized police departments and a massive disparity between the arms available to the working class and those available to the ruling class. We can’t win a shooting war… which is precisely why right-wing groups like the NRA want to get us into one. So, in short, I agree that a bloodless revolution is the best one.

However, I don’t think we can count on infiltrating and using existing institutions. The problem isn’t that good structures are led by bad people. It’s that we have bad structures that limit the range of action of even the best people (which we also don’t have). Even a president like Bernie Sanders would find himself constrained by the nature of state power and a set of institutions designed to prop up the power of the capitalist class. That doesn’t mean that we renounce participation in “bourgeois” institutions–just that our participation has to reshape them, rather than just using them “as-is” to advance us toward socialism. We need communists on school boards, municipal councils, legislative bodies at every level. We need communists in labor unions, fighting for solidarity and democracy. We need communists serving in leadership of professional organizations. But we shouldn’t think of this as infiltration, nor of the result as a coup (which only replaces one government with another). We participate in existing institutions as part of building a socialist revolution.

    Lorin Jenis | March 26, 2017 at 1:48 PM

    You have provided us with some extremely cogent arguments. My little scenario was just a fantasy. I am eager to learn about a possible better way.

    Noel T Martin | August 24, 2017 at 12:27 PM

    What you are describing is reformist and while I quite agree that reforms can be positive, nevertheless surely it is trans-formative measures (directly challenging power structures) that is on the path to socialism?

Lorin Jenis | March 20, 2017 at 12:44 PM

It is evident that the economic disparity and (comparatively mild) political repression that we find in the United States cannot compare with the obscene disparity between rich and poor and lack of political rights that exist in other parts of the world, where workers are virtually enslaved in the factories that manufacture the products that line the shelves of Target and Best Buy. If the world’s poor and oppressed are our brothers and sisters (because, obviously, they are human beings), we must take seriously Leon Trotsky’s call for a worldwide communist revolution. I abhor violence, but it is difficult to see how change can come to countries that are ruled by harsh dictators (allied with international corporations) without violence, and perhaps the violence will take the form of people in the street armed with molotov cocktails. If our species is as intelligent as it says it is, we must be able to think of a better way. Maybe (I am just fantasizing) agents of socialism could infiltrate political, corporate, and military power structures in order to effect a bloodless coup, when the communist military commander orders the army to stand down. It sounds like a B movie, but can you think of another way? Maybe we should pray to God and say the rosary and that would do the trick.

Gary Mueller | March 09, 2017 at 10:24 PM

Agreed, we must have unity of purpose and that purpose is democracy. Communist, Democrat, Green or whatever, progressive party members must fight together.

    Nell | March 16, 2017 at 1:36 AM

    My interpretation of the question is: Does the CPUSA support overthrowing capitalism using force or violent tactics if the opportunity presented itself? It’s pretty obvious that socialists wouldn’t and don’t support bourgeois wars for dominance or capitalist imperialism.

      Joe Sims | March 22, 2017 at 12:29 PM

      The CPUSA does not advocate violence. Force and compulsion exist also in peaceful forms, as in the case of a strike or occupation. We favor a a peaceful transition to socialism.

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